Tag Archives: Pole Buildings

Comparative Building Shopping

Comparative Building Shopping: The following was originally blogged about in July of 2011. It is a conversation we have with our designers regularly.

On Fridays, Hansen Buildings holds an internal informational teleconference for our Building Designers. These sessions provide our designers with the best possible tools to assist clients in designing ideal dream buildings.

Last Friday’s discussion was centered around comparisons between our pole buildings, and those offered by others. As is usual, in this type of discussion, the topic of “price” gets thrown onto the table.

Honestly, it’s impossible to sell any product, based strictly upon being the lowest price. There is always someone who is willing to compromise quality or service (or both) to get to a lower price. And when price becomes the definer, then products become seen as a commodity  – which causes true product benefit to be thrown out the door.

In comparing our buildings, against those offered by others, we can eventually take enough features off our buildings (sacrificing quality) so we will be the least expensive. But why? Why subject clients to a less than satisfactory permanent solution. A poorly designed building is not like a car, it can’t be traded in for a new model.

My advice was – instead of “dumbing” our buildings down, have the competitors  add in features to bring them up to our standards. I assisted one of our clients in the not too distant past. He had gotten quotes from us, as well as from a fairly large lumber chain. Both buildings were of the same dimensions, number and size of doors, and the initial prices were approximately the same. There is where the similarities ended.

By the time our competitor had added all of the features provided in the pole building solution we had proposed, the building was over double the price and did not include a structural warranty or a manual of instructions on how to build!

Rather than price or cost, the most appropriate term for clients is value – to always offer the absolute best possible value, for the least possible investment.  Make sure you are comparing apples to apples, or oranges, when building shopping.   In other words, make sure you know what you are buying!

FSC and Pole Buildings

FSC® Lumber

When my youngest son Brent and I were helping Eric construct his self-storage pole building (you can read about it here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/06/builder/ we noticed some of the lumber had FSC stamps on it. I had heard of lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) but had never seen any of it in real life before.

So, what is this FSC stuff all about anyhow?

fsc lumberAfter the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro failed to produce an agreement to stop deforestation, a group of businesses, environmentalists and community leaders came together to create the Forest Stewardship Council.

Gathered in the first FSC General Assembly in 1993 in Toronto, Canada, the group set out to create a voluntary, market-based approach which would improve forest practices worldwide.

At the time, FSC represented an alternative to boycotts of forest products, which were shown to be counter-productive since they devalued forest land.

In 1995, the United States chapter of the FSC was established, and is now headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Over the past 20 years, FSC has earned a reputation as the most rigorous, credible forest certification system. As a result, there are significant advantages to choosing FSC-certified products:

Credibility – FSC is an independent, member-led group organized into social, environmental, and economic chambers which have equal authority. Members elect the board of directors and vote on major decisions. Anyone committed to responsible forest management can become a member of FSC. This open and balanced approach is unique to FSC and ensures a diversity of perspectives are represented in decision making.

Environmental Protection – FSC’s forest management standards expand protection of water quality, prohibit harvest of rare old-growth forest, prevent loss of natural forest cover and prohibit highly hazardous chemicals, which are all unique aspects of the system. For example, FSC prohibits the use of atrazine, which is otherwise legal in the United States but banned in Europe because it has been shown to cause water pollution and birth defects. Other certifications allow atrazine use, including aerial spraying of the chemical.

Community Engagement – FSC requires forest managers – on both public and private lands – to engage local community members and to protect customary rights of indigenous people, ensuring their voices are part of the certification process and impacts of forest operations are addressed. In addition, FSC requires the results of certification audits to be released to the public, even on private lands, which makes FSC unique among forest certifications.

Access to Markets – Many major companies have policies which state a preference for FSC-certified products. Green building standards, including the US Green Building Council’s LEED program, provide incentives for using FSC-certified materials. Increasingly, consumers are requesting FSC-certified products in retail stores across the country. Many governments require the use of FSC-certified products. Companies which produce FSC-certified products gain access to these markets, and many others.

Concerned about how the lumber for your new post frame building was managed? You can specify FSC lumber for your new building and it can be included, for a nominal upcharge.

Hansen Pole Buildings Owner is Back!

Hi! This is one of the founding owners of Hansen Pole Buildings, and for whom the company is named, J.A.Hansen. I thought we’d take a break from the usual Friday “rerun” blogs, for me to tell you a story. Bear with me here…

It was September 26th of last year, 2015. I was on my 2004 Yamaha 1100, a sweet little ride if there ever was one. It fit me perfectly. My partner in crime and loving husband, the one and only Mike the Pole Barn Guru, was on his 1986 Yamaha Venture Royale, 1300. We were on our way from South Dakota, where the main office of the company is, to Newman Lake, WA, (Spokane suburb near the Idaho border). That is home for Mike and I, whenever we haven’t been on the road over the past several years. But that, as they say, is “another story”.

We’d made that trip several times over the past many years, and this was my third trip riding cross country on my own bike. It was wonderful to learn to ride my own bike. Besides the thrill of riding in the wind, there is a lot more to see than the back of my husband’s helmet!

Today was extra special. It was the middle of an absolutely beautiful day. Sun was shining, but we’d started early enough to stop “early” if and when the sun got in our eyes. It was early yet, maybe 1:30 in the afternoon. We were headed for Bozeman, MT, our next gas stop. I was riding lead, my husband behind, close enough to “shield” me from other traffic, but not so close as to be able to stop….should he need to.

Now the next part is missing details….because quite honestly, I simply don’t have them. I’ve dreamt about it, relived it, and no way will what happened prior to the next part will come back to me. And no, I didn’t have a stroke or pass out. If I had, I’ve had dropped my bike right then and there. (Yes you experienced bikers, I probably should have just “laid it down”. Hindsight is….).

A curve was coming up, and as is my habit, I slow for curves. I am careful of my speed whenever I can’t exactly see the entire road ahead of me. Interstate was 75mph and I know I had already slowed to 70. When for some unexplained reason, my bike would not throttle down more. I turned the handle WAY down, or at least tried to, and tried to carefully brake. I went to the side of the road, so to signal Mike something was wrong with my bike and we’d be stopping. I could hear him through our headsets, calmly asking me “what’s wrong?”.

The next part went so fast, in the flash of seconds. Apparently Mike could see I was in trouble as he hollered into my ears, “Slow down! Slow Down!” I didn’t hear anything after that. I do remember going over the edge of the high side of a left hand curve, and thinking “just ride it out, ride it out”. That came from my 40 years of snow skiing experience. And so I did ….for a time. The next part was relayed to me several days later. Mike tells me I DID ride it out….until my back tire hit some loose dirt and then I went end over end….with me ON the bike. And finally, I flew off….still at a very high speed.

I do remember hitting the ground on my chest. It was, um…not pleasant! (I broke most of the ribs on my right side.) Immediately I knew I was paralyzed at least from the waist down. My feet felt then, as they do today, “frozen”. But more than frozen. It’s similar to when you hit your “crazy bone”. They felt…numb, cold, and tingly.

An ambulance ride to Bozeman, helicopter to Billings to place titanium rods in my back and be told I am a T-6 Paraplegic. Four days after surgery, I went by Leer Jet from Bozeman to Craig Hospital and Rehab in Denver, CO which came up as the #1 place in the U.S. when my husband looked for the “best rehab” for SCI (spinal cord injury). Three months at Craig, another 3 weeks recently at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for a “tune up”, and I finally am starting to get back to work. Today.

What did I do as the company chief officer? Lots of things, including editing and posting the blogs that Mike The Pole Barn Guru writes. More importantly, to YOU as a consumer, what am I going to do NOW?

Good questions. I am not sure of the “details”, but I am sure of one thing. I am still at the forefront, cheering on our staff, being there to advise, direct, and make sure ALL of our clients get…Your Building. Your Way. Yes, that’s our tagline. It was my brain storm and I’m sticking to it….to give you the best we have to offer. The very best custom designed building, at a reasonable price.

During my convalescence, “new” blogs were reduced from 4 a week to 3 a week, with “re-runs” posted on Fridays. During those 7 months Mike the Pole Guru not only was at my bedside every single day (and often nights), but he was at YOUR side as well. He reviewed building plans, assisted Clients and Contractors with tech support questions, answered Pole Barn Guru queries, and yes, was still writing blogs.

Our general manager, Eric, also took on quite a bit of my work, and was one of my best “cheerleaders” in my recovery. I am happy to say, he has also recently become a major partner in owning Hansen Pole Buildings. Along with Mike, Eric shares my vision and the future of Hansen Buildings to be the “best darn pole building company money has to offer”.

So – I’m back…and no more “re-runs” on Fridays. You are free to enter a search term if you feel there is something we may have discussed before, or something “new” to you, but may or may not have blogged about in the past.

We are open to researching ideas for custom designs for pole buildings….pole barns to some. To us, they are anything you want your building to be, as long as we can design it structurally safe and sound, and aesthetically pleasing to any eye.

It feels good to be back…thank you for your patience and we look forward to hearing from you.

Judy A. Hansen, owner

Residential Pole Barns

Common Sense – It Isn’t Common Any More

As reported in the West Frankfort, Illinois Daily American, in an article posted November 12, 2014 by Leigh M. Caldwell:

“The much-discussed ordinance establishing codes for mobile homes, modular homes, portable buildings and pole barns will go back before city commissioners tonight for a vote.

West Frankfort’s Planning Commission has drafted a couple of different versions of the ordinance over the past few months, garnering much discussion and public comment.

As for portable buildings and pole barns, the proposed ordinance would ban them from being used as residences. Anyone wanting to build a so-called pole barn house would have to meet the requirements for residential structures.”

residential-homeFor the benefit of the unenlightened in West Frankfort (or anywhere else in the United States), “pole barns” are actually more technically “post frame buildings” and their construction is covered as Code Conforming in the International Codes.

It could be unlawful, as well as possibly unethical, for a jurisdiction to deny a Code conforming structural building system. However, as best I have been able to ascertain, to place limitations upon types of roofing and/or siding as well as even colors is certainly within a jurisdiction’s area of control.

Now if you are one who is faced with these types of limitations – keep in mind the folks who have enacted them were either elected by you, or appointed to positions by the folks you elected!

Regardless of the type of building system, whether it be stick framed (stud walls), masonry, concrete, straw bale, or yes – even pole barns – if it falls under residential pole barns, the International Residential Code (IRC) requirements must be adhered to.

The September 2014 Rural Builder Magazine recently focused upon residential pole barns, including the cover story which was authored by yours truly! To read more visit: https://www.constructionmagnet.com/post-frame-technique/post-frame-comes-home-part-i-brave-new-world-of-the-pole-barn-house

Weber and Pole Buildings

I consider myself to be a pretty good cook. Certainly I am no Emeril Lagasse from “Emeril Green”, but I can hold my own. Through experience, I’ve become fairly proficient at being able to throw a meal together, using whatever ingredients are at hand. My bride continues to be dumbfounded by my seeming inability to follow a recipe, yet have it turn out….and turn out pretty good.

Now I realize Emeril doesn’t live and die by the grill, but I come close. What alarms me is when we travel and I find the grill where I am to cook was made by a vacuum cleaner company! As anyone who cooks frequently will tell you, the degree of difficulty goes up in order of magnitude when not using one’s own equipment, especially shoddy equipment. I certainly miss my grill when cooking up dinners away from home.

At home, I’ve got a Weber and there are a couple of big reasons why. Weber has been making grills for decades and makes a quality product. Growing up, our Mother was maybe not the greatest cook, and the inferior grill she would barbeque on left my brother and I questioning if what had been burned was ever even alive. When it came time for me to buy a grill, I didn’t hesitate to buy a Weber, and I’m glad I did. I’ve been using my Weber now for nearly two decades and it has never let me down.

Back out to being on the road and trying to cook on a grill made by a company which backed into grill making. This company does not specialize in grills and actually doesn’t specialize in anything at all – rather it seems like they’ve made a point of manufacturing everything. Overall, it turns what is normally a very enjoyable process for me into an epic battle of man against grill.

After getting back home to my beloved Weber, I started thinking about how their continued focus on making the best grill possible is how they’ve achieved success. It also got me thinking about Hansen Pole Buildings and what our company’s specialty is, where our roots are, and where we’re heading. Since our beginnings in 2002, we’ve focused on providing the best pole buildings possible for the investment. We’ve honed in on this service as our specialty, and we are very proud of the services we offer today which are all connected to pole buildings.

Weber GrilleJust like making a quality Weber grill, being good at pole buildings requires it to be in your DNA. You can’t just add “Pole Barns” to your company name or say, “We can do this too!” and all of a sudden become good at pole buildings. We’ve seen it time and time again; businesses which sell paint and lumber, or contractors who build houses and decks – decide they are going to add to their product line by selling pole barns. They often try to keep the client focused on bright, shiny things, while glossing over their really not understanding the minutia involved in producing the best possible pole building.

These lumber dealers and builders often provide the illusion of being pole barn experts, with lots of pretty pictures and claims of excellence. Through the course of working with our clients on their new pole building journey, we go deeper than our fair-weather competitors because search is in our DNA. We’re well versed in this ever-changing industry, and we strive to achieve the best results based upon our clients’ goals. We have the decades of experience and knowledge to back it up too.

We get asked on a frequent basis – “can you do little sheds, 6’ gazebos, and all steel framed buildings….and more.” Our answer is “no, we can’t do everything…and do it well.” .

The bottom line is making grills has been Weber’s specialty since the beginning. If Weber decided to start selling meat to cook on my grill, I’d probably be more than a little suspicious as to the quality and source of the steak, just as you should be of lumber yards and contractors taking on pole buildings as an afterthought.

All Steel Buildings Propaganda Part II

Yesterday I started a 3 part series. A simple typographical error on the Internet got me to “hansonsteel.com” (Hanson versus Hansen-which is the company I work for) where I found an interesting page on “Steel vs. Pole Buildings”.

To continue the story….

(For sake of ease of reading, words in italics are those from the all steel building website.)


Property insurance for a pre-engineered steel building is generally 30% lower as compared to wooden pole buildings. This is due to the increased fire hazard with wooden buildings.

Insurance rates are based upon the replacement costs of the building. As pole buildings are less expensive than all steel buildings, the insurance on them is less expensive as well.


All Hanson Steel Buildings include extensive assembly documents, plans and engineer certifications. All plans are engineer stamped and ready for submission to the local building department. Parts are numbered to enable easy and rapid construction.

Generally assembly instructions and plans are not as thorough for pole barns/buildings. Parts are normally not numbered or sorted. All of this can cause delays in obtaining permits and in overall construction.

Steel Building ConstructionWhat they do not tell you about all steel buildings, is the need to obtain (from yet another engineer) foundation designs. As long as the foundation bolts are placed absolutely perfectly, all steel buildings assemble fairly easily along with the use of lots of expensive heavy equipment (such as forklifts and cranes – neither of which is required for post frame construction).

Hansen Pole Buildings include detailed full sized 24” x 36” blueprints of seven or more pages which detail every component of the structure. Complete engineered calculations and seals are available for any of our designs. Every Hansen Pole Building kit package includes complete installation constructions with “live” pictures and diagrams in a fully illustrated construction manual.  We also offer technical support 7 days a week for assistance.  Does this all steel company provide technical support?  If they do, they don’t advertise it.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll finish my story…

All Steel Buildings Propaganda Part I

A simple typographical error on the Internet got me to “hansonsteel.com” (Hanson versus Hansen-which is the company I work for) where I found an interesting page on “Steel vs. Pole Buildings”. Let me deflate their ego, by blowing holes in their misinformation.

For sake of ease of reading, words in bold italics are those from the all steel building website:

The most frequently-asked questions are about the differences between pre-engineered steel buildings and pole barns/buildings. The benefits of pre-engineered steel buildings are significant.


Hanson Steel Buildings bolt to a solid concrete foundation, Base angle or sheeting notch with closure strips to ensure the building will be frost-free and water resistant.

In comparison, pole barns/buildings are set directly into the earth and offer little or no resistance to water or frost heaving.

All steel buildings require either a concrete foundation or significant concrete piers. What the all steel people do not say is, the foundation design is NOT included with the building purchase, and a local engineer must be hired to provide the design. Neither a base angle or a sheeting notch are going to have anything to do with preventing frost heave. A “sheeting notch” actually places the steel wall sheeting in contact with damp concrete, accelerating the rate of deterioration of the wall steel.  Bottom line – this notch is going to hold water with the steel sitting directly in it…causing it to rust.

Our company has an older pole building where the previous owners errantly put “fill” up to the bottom of the steel – see how it rusts the bottom to be in contact with water?

Steel Building Rust

Pole building design accounts for frost heave in the location of the base of the building foundation below the frost line. The top of a concrete slab in pole buildings is at least 3-1/2 inches above the highest point of the grade outside of the building – it would take a deluge to get water above this point.

Using the foam closures and base angle may prevent water moisture from getting into their building, but it’s not going to have any effect upon frost heave.

Again from their website:


Hanson Steel Buildings are made with solid steel framing that is coated with a highly protective primer applied after cuts and drill holes to ensure complete rust protection. We offer a lifetime product that does not warp, twist or decay like wood. Steel is a more sanitary product when used for livestock purposes. Steel is also preferred for permanent installations.

The pressure-treated wood used in pole barns/buildings can warp and shrink. It is not recommended for permanent installations. The foundation frame shifts and requires straightening every 5-7 years – a process that costs thousands of dollars! Clear-span capabilities are very limited with wooden construction.

An engineered Hansen Pole Building comes along with a Limited Lifetime Structural Warranty. Post frame buildings are certainly permanent – the millions of them existing everywhere in America are a testament to their durability. Many of them have been around for well over 100 years and I expect them to be used and useful long after I am gone from this earth.

With the use of dry lumber, it is dimensionally stable and won’t shrink.  If they are using green lumber, which never should be used on pole buildings, then yes, this could be an issue. Hansen Pole Buildings only uses dry lumber.

I’d like to see verification of any properly design and constructed post frame building having a foundation shift, or ever needing to be straightened! This is one I’d dearly love to see documentation to support their claim.  With adequate footings, (meaning the foundation was done right), in over 14,000 buildings and 30 years, I’ve never seen a building shifting or having to be straightened – whether it’s all steel or a post frame building.

Pole buildings can easily clear span 80 to 100 feet using wood trusses. Rarely are larger clearspans needed for any type of building.  When they are, (such as roping and riding arenas) – we are quick to tell folks they may want to check out an all steel building.,

I don’t have a problem with all steel buildings – quite the contrary. But they have their limitations in use, which you can check out by going to the search field and typing in “all steel buildings”.

Come back tomorrow for more….on all-steel building propaganda.


Pole Barns & Politics

CIMG0020I’ve been in the post frame (pole barn) industry for over three decades now, and I’ve never seen the “pole barn” used as a metaphor for anything by the mainstream media. Well, knock me over with a feather, here it is!! Now IMHO (in my humble opinion), the author doesn’t have a true grasp of what “pole barns” are all about – hopefully he has a better hold on his political views.

(Disclaimer – I am not promoting any particular political belief or disbelief in the use of the excerpt from this article.)

In the July 20, 2013 Ohio Conservative Review, an article written by Brad Beckett contained the following:

“In recent years, however, the GOP has been transforming itself from a “big tent” into what I would describe as a big “pole barn.”

A pole barn has a very simple & efficient structure.  It’s basically several poles ringing a rectangular perimeter supporting a roof supplemented with trusses.  It’s commoditized and can be built with few and easily obtained materials.  Its value lies in that it can be quickly built and hold a lot of people.  Serving warehouses, restaurants, social clubs, entertainment, and even churches, it’s a one-size-fits-all model that can be transformed into virtually anything.

That’s the point I’m driving at here.

The GOP has gradually moved away from being a grand, powerful “big tent,” consisting of many core components all working together towards a common belief system– something bigger than life itself, with ideas divinely inspired.  Gone are those mighty poles representing sacred and firmly held beliefs–the center poles around which hoards of people once rallied.

In fact, when you’re in a pole barn, there is generally nothing in the middle, except what you might temporarily place there.  When people fill it up, the supporting poles are seemingly insignificant and are hidden from view–normally ringing the side behind a veneer–out of sight and out of mind.  They keep the weather out and let people in–that’s all.

That is the danger today’s Republican Party faces as it transitions from a big tent into a pole barn.  Its goal is to allow as many people inside as possible.  Fielding candidates that can merely “win” is the order of the day.  They no longer have to be brand label; they’re commodities, bought in bulk and sold at a discount.”

I agree totally with the efficient part of “A pole barn has a very simple & efficient structure.” , however I have to take issue with it being “very simple”. Indeed, today’s modern post frame building is a highly engineered structure, consisting of a plethora of very specialized components, which are melded into the efficient structure.

Rather than a “one-size fits all” model, the pole building is far closer to being a model which allows each person to have a size customized specifically to fit their needs. If a pole barn was to be analogous to political thought of a particular party, we would need to have hundreds of thousands of political parties in the United States, as the design solution which best fits one, is not likely to fit the next person’s needs. 

Mike the Pole Barn Guru: My Humble Thanks

When Mike the Pole Barn Guru blog was first begun two years ago, I had it in my mind it might be possible to write on say 100 or so topics, provided I really put my mind to it.

For those who are keeping track, this happens to be blog #500!! And yes, there are those who do keep track. I’ve received emails from clients who have referenced blogs by number – “remember back in blog #253 when you said….”

Besides you, who reads my posts? Co-workers; others in the post frame, lumber and construction industry; past, current and future clients; Building Officials; Registered Design Professionals (architects and engineers), the list is seemingly endless.

I have to give thanks to these thousands of subscribers who read my posts every single work day. Networkedblogs.com has Mike the Pole Barn Guru Blog ranked as the fourth most followed construction blog – ON THE PLANET!!

And never would I have guessed some of my posts would have been read by 70,000 people. I am overwhelmed.

Why do I keep writing?

Because I get feedback, support and comments about the posts on an almost hourly basis. As long as I can continue to keep readers entertained and educated, then it is worth the effort.

sticky notes of blog topicsThe most difficult part for me, is how to decide what to write about next! At last count (remember I thought I might make it to #100), I have over 700 topics yet to write about. My darling bride laughs at me when she sees me dragging out my huge stack of “topics” written on post it notes.

Even though I have so many topics to write about now, I am always on the lookout for more. Have a topic you would like to have addressed, feel free to shout it out to me. Chances are, if one person has an interest, hundreds more will as well.

Thank you to all readers…for your continued support and inspiration.  And mostly – for contributed so much of the “fun” factor in my job.

Onward towards #1000!

Write to me at: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com


Mike the Pole Barn Guru Back Returns to Selling Pole Buildings

Part 3 of:  Mike the Pole Barn Guru… Unemployment Line?

Back in the day…over a decade ago, I had a good friend who had created a website and was making a good living selling one single aftermarket engine part for Dodge pickups. Now this was back when most people did not have internet service, and those who did, got it at the crawling speed of dial up.

I was familiar with the ‘net, as my former construction business, Momb Steel Buildings had a website as early as the mid-1990’s (for the handful of people besides Bill Gates and Steve Jobs who could access it then).

Pointing out the success of my friend, I convinced my lovely bride pole buildings could be sold via the internet.

When I was in architecture school, my dream was to design practical, high quality, affordable buildings. Somehow, this was just not a fit with the professors I had who were busy designing edifices to themselves.

When Hansen Pole Buildings started, I wanted the “fun” job….working with clients to design their ideal dream buildings.

Long ago, I figured out – it is “All About the Building”…design pole buildings which best meet the balance of the client’s wants, needs, dreams, hopes, desires and budget. As long as those things were taken care of, everything else fell into place. Clients got great pole buildings, at prices they could afford, and we made a little bit of money on lots and lots of buildings.

Design Your Dream Pole Building

The best part for me is when clients send me pole building photos …enjoying their new building.

For the most part, I (with a little assist from technology) worked myself out of my other positions at Hansen Buildings.

Time to get back to where it all started…designing YOUR ideal dream building.

As we love to say at Hansen Buildings: Your Building. Your Way.

Now THIS is my idea of having fun!

To receive more pole building tips and advice subscribe to the pole barn guru blog to receive blogs daily via email!

Quonset Huts

You may have heard them advertised on television, radio, online and in the back of Popular Mechanics.

I came across a query from a gentleman from Wake Forest, NC which included, “I have found some really good deals on the local craigslist from private individuals who have bought them and never put them up for one reason or another.” He wanted, “…to hear anyone’s input, good or bad. Yes, there are a lot of horror stories out there about poor schmucks that got hosed trying to buy from some less-than-scrupulous purveyors of these structures, but like I said, I plan on purchasing from a private individual who already has it in his possession.”

Quonset Hut

Quonset Hut

Now all of this got me thinking, so I started my research. It turns out the Quonset hut was named for the site of their first manufacture – Quonset Point, Rhode Island. First built for the Navy in 1941, as many as 170,000 Quonset huts were manufactured during World War II.

According to Wikipedia, “The erection of Quonset huts has been banned in the US state of Alaska for many years due to so many already being in the state and the majority of those falling into disrepair and becoming environmental hazards.”

I’ve never been involved in the construction of a Quonset hut myself, as my background is in conventional stick frame and pole buildings. Due to this, I relied upon the experiences of three people.

When I was a contractor, Jay and his crew subcontracted labor on several pole barns we sold. Jay also did concrete work. On his own, he contracted to do the concrete and assembly of a Quonset for a golf course driving range not far from me. The building was 40’ x 60’ and they worked on it every day for a month. Jay’s comments were anything but positive about the concrete requirements and he said, “I’ve never seen and installed so many bolts in my life”. Of course when the building was up, it had no endwalls, so those had to be constructed, and the round walls precluded anything from being attached to them (not to mention it was near impossible to insulate.)

The insulation issue brought me to a comment from a Bob in Paisley, PA, talking about a local feed store, “The feed store has had issues with theirs and the original owner said it was a bad choice. They had a company come in and spray adhesive type insulation to the entire inside. As the metal expands and contracts portions of the insulation failed to follow the same rates which in turn resulted in chunks of reflective insulation falling from the ceiling area. Condensation and drips formed after the insulation fell.”

The second experience was told to me by one of my oldest daughter Bailey’s friends. Her friend’s father bought a Quonset for a garage. The pieces for it lay in a pile next to their house for several years, untouched. He finally sold it.  I can only surmise from comments it was quickly discovered to be far too much work to erect it, once purchased.

In the last case, one of our Building Designers, Paul, related from his personal history as a Quonset salesman. His words were, “Less than 50% of the ones sold, are ever constructed.”

My summation is – even if they were easy to construct, which does not appear to be the case, Quonsets generally come in a single color – galvanized. They are difficult to insulate, with condensation control certainly being an issue. The purchase price often does not include endwalls, and certainly not doors (and sometimes not even delivery). And, speaking of doors, how do door and window openings work with curved (or even extremely high ribbed) sides? In the words of Bob, “Unless you get one of the tall ones you end up with an area along each of the side walls that becomes unusable except for collecting junk on the floor. Then it can be a head banger along the wall whenever you walk directly toward it while looking down for the junk.”

If anyone has a great, glowing story about Quonset huts, I’d love to hear it, I really would.  Because so far, I’m not impressed.  But I am always willing to listen to….”the other side of the story.”  Obviously I’m looking for objective evidence from those using quonsets…not just those selling.

Is It Sprinkling? Benefits Of A Sprinklered Building

Those of you who know me well are very aware I am willing to change my mind, when sufficient evidence is provided to prove a case.

Recently a fair amount of brouhaha has been generated around legislation to require fire suppression sprinkler systems in new residential construction.

The International Code Council (an organization of building inspectors, fire officials and others, who set building standards) recommended two years ago for codes to be adopted requiring sprinkler systems in homes and townhouses under three stories high.

Now I do not at all like government mandates or interference in individual choice. Apparently neither do 34 states, which have prohibited, through legislation or code, mandatory residential fire sprinklers.

Sprinkler Head

Pole Building Design Allows For Cheap Sprinkler Installation Costs

Opponents most often cite the cost of systems, as the reason to not have them. From my research, it appears systems in new home construction can generally be installed from between $1 to $1.50 per square foot.

With pole buildings, the simplicity of the structural system should allow for even less expensive upfront installation costs. The investment into the sprinkler system can also often be offset by insurance savings, and by specific design alternatives or “trade-offs” permitted by most building codes.

A sprinklered building often results in reduced fire-resistant requirements for structural components. Costly firewalls may be reduced or completely eliminated, and the quantity of exit doors may be reduced. The biggest plus – pole buildings allow for a relatively large volume of space to be created economically. With the proper sprinkler system, larger building areas and heights can be allowed.

Larger structures could only be built out of fire restrictive materials when not sprinklered. Using sprinklers, they can now be designed far more economically as pole buildings.

My conclusion to the evidence is an overwhelming “yes” to sprinklers in buildings….including pole buildings.  Far be it from me to buck any system which gives you a safer building, and for quite possibly pretty much the same (or at least reasonable) cost.  I’ll bring my umbrella and rain gear.

Moving Pole Buildings – Tinker Toys or Lincoln Logs

“I’ve got a GREAT deal on a pole building for you. All you have to do is take it down, move it and reassemble”.

Even if the price is FREE, is it a bargain or not?

Let’s take a look at why this might not be such a great deal.

Better check out the building department first. Is the building more than a few years old?  If the free building was not designed using the same building code as what is now required by your local jurisdiction, you could be spending money to upgrade the building to match the new codes. Major code changes occurred as the International Codes have been adopted over the past few years.

In snow country? Even the new code updates, every three years, have resulted in changes to how drift loads are applied to roofs. The seemingly perfect roof trusses may not be able to be reused.

So….assuming the entire design portion works out…..

Most pole buildings have the bottom end of the columns embedded in concrete. This means having to cut the posts off and use brackets to mount the building to concrete piers or a foundation, or purchase new columns. Neither of these options will be a bargain, and if you opt to use a bracket solution, you should hire an engineer to do the foundation design.

As you take things apart, make sure to label each piece, so it all fits back together as closely as possible. If steel roofed and sided, and the panels are attached with screws, this will speed up disassembly as well as minimize panels being damaged. Don’t stack one sheet of steel on top of another though, as the screw holes will scratch the paint of the panel directly below. Any roof insulation/vapor barrier will probably not be able to be reused, due to the inability to perfectly align screw holes.

Down to the framework? You can pretty well assume the original building frame was assembled using screws, often ring shank, or threaded ones, which can be a challenge to remove, without damage to the lumber.

Provided a relatively successful tear down, now it is time to move, usually involving equipment to load onto a truck. If you don’t already have a truck, there is the hassle of having to schedule renting a truck, picking up the truck, as well as offloading at the other end. Then the real fun begins – trying to put the puzzle back together so everything fits.

Besides all of the challenges above, seen and unforeseen, the cost of labor has been overlooked. Labor costs to construct a building, usually run from 50-75% of the cost of materials. It will cost every bit as much to disassemble and reassemble.

When all is said and done, was it actually a worthwhile investment to have a brand new “free” used building?

Tornado Proof: Pole Buildings Can Limit Damage

Thanks to www.ocala.com May 24, 2011 for their article, “Florida Building Codes Limit Tornado Damage”

While surveying tornado damage in Tuscaloosa, Ala., University of Florida researcher David O. Prevatt said he was struck by the city’s large number of old homes susceptible to storm damage.

“We have to expect this sort of damage unless we decide to do something differently,” said Prevatt, an assistant professor of civil and Rural Tornadocoastal engineering.

Prevatt is the principal investigator of a research project documenting damage from the tornado that devastated Tuscaloosa last month. He’s planning to make a similar trip to Joplin, Mo., where one of the deadliest U.S. twisters on record struck Sunday and killed at least 116 people.

Prevatt believes that new building codes, like those instituted in response to hurricanes in Florida, could reduce some of the damage from tornadoes in those areas.

“We can probably save some damage and probably save some lives as well,” he said.

Hurricanes are a bigger concern than tornadoes in Florida, said David Donnelly, Alachua County’s emergency management director.

Florida, he said, doesn’t typically get the extreme twisters that have recently struck Alabama and Missouri.

“Florida as a whole doesn’t really see those type of tornadoes,” he said.

There are exceptions. In February 1998, violent tornadoes that swept across four counties in Central Florida killed 41 people. In 2007, 21 people died when tornadoes left a 70-mile trail of destruction across Lake and Volusia counties, including parts of The Villages.

Prevatt said the damage he saw in Tuscaloosa included buildings knocked off their foundations and homes where roofs were nowhere to be found. He made a trip last year to Hiroshima, so he can compare the devastation in Alabama to photos he saw of Hiroshima after the atomic bombing.

Tuscaloosa “really looked like a bomb site,” he said.

Prevatt and researchers from several other universities spent a week in Tuscaloosa documenting damage to about 150 homes. Their work is being funded by the National Science Foundation and International Association for Wind Engineering.

Now his attention is turning to Joplin, where more than 2,000 structures were leveled. He expects to travel there late this week or early next week, after conditions improve.

Modern pole building design allows for structures to be designed to withstand or reduce damage from tornado winds. Columns embedded into the ground eliminate the weak point of stick frame construction in the connection of walls to foundations. The embedment itself can be designed to withstand uplift and overturning forces for any desired wind speed.

Roof trusses can be attached directly to the columns using seven gauge steel brackets with through bolts. This connection eliminates another noted stick frame weakness – connecting trusses to wall top plates, which is typically done with either toe nails, or light gauge steel connectors.

The Florida Building Code has the most stringent wind requirements in the United States. The 29 gauge steel roofing and siding has Florida approvals to be used in hurricane regions. With appropriate spacing of framing members, this steel cladding, attached with properly placed diaphragm screws, will withstand even the highest recorded wind speeds.  Pole building designs may help to reduce damage and save lives.